The role of school management teams (SMTs) in rendering learning support in public primary schools
Ntseto, Rachel Motshidisi
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The education environment in South Africa is characterised by diverse layers of complexity and there is recognition by education practitioners, scholars, and researchers world-widethat schools require effective leaders and managers if they are to provide the best possible education for their learners. The term learning support is commonplace in the education provision of learners with special education needs and barriers to learning. In this regard, learning support is critical to these learners to achieve academically. The South African Ministry of Education recognised that the success to the approach to address barriers to learning effectively lies with education managers and education cadre (EPW 6 2001:29). Effective schools are educationally inclusive schools in which the teaching and learning, achievements, attitudes and well-being of every person matter. This is shown not only in their performance, but also in their ethos and willingness to offer new opportunities to learners who may have experienced previous difficulties. This study aims at highlighting the challenges that SMTs of clustering primary schools face as well as their roles in rendering effective inclusive learning support to SEN learners. The theory underpinning this research is the ecosystem theory which the researcher regarded as the most suitable to address learners with barriers to learning and development. In an education system characterised by inclusion, the ecosystem perspective suggests that inclusive learning support should not only be directed at an individual learner but that it should be extended to all systems that surround the learner. Employing a qualitative interpretive design, the study utilised a case study where of four clustering schools in the Motheo schools district were purposefully selected. Utilising focus group interviews, group discussion and semi-structured interviews as the research tools, the target population comprising of SMTs, SBSTs, SGBs and educators, the study yielded the data for this study. A key finding of this study revealed that SMTs of the public primary schools researched in the Motheo District cluster are not fully attentive to the value of their roles as mangers in rendering of effective ILS. This study recommends that it is crucial for SMTs in conjunction with relevant stakeholders (District Based Support Teams, School Based Support Teams, School Governing Bodies and educators and Government departments) to create a conducive environment for the promotion of ILS.